The Hijab Files
Maryam Azam’s debut collection takes the significance of the hijab as its focus of attention. Though shamed and angered by the prejudice towards Muslims the scarf arouses, Azam is also aware of its sensuality and allure, and the power and protection it offers. In ‘A Brief Guide to Hijab Fashion’, ‘Miss Khan Takes off her Hijab’ and ‘Places I’ve Prayed’, she reflects on the rich possibilities of the scarf, the moral values it embodies, and the commitment required to maintain these values in a secular society. In the second section, ‘Wallah Bros’, she examines the tensions young Muslims experience when negotiating the technology of modern dating. The poems in the final section, ‘The Piercing of this Place’, are alert to the presence of spiritual forces in the world, and open on to the larger dimensions of time and space, to mystery and the prospect of death. Azam’s style is simple and direct, and informed with humour: it frames as it reveals, asserting the dignity of ritual and observance in everyday life.